For the longest time, dogs have been considered man's best friend. This is especially true when the dog is specially trained to mitigate ones disability. It can make it especially hard when the dog develops medical problems or dies.
Many programs retire a canine partner when medical issues arise. Since the individual has been assisted by their canine partner often times for a number of years, the bond that has developed between them is obviously immeasurable. In many cases, the service dog gives the disabled partner not just physical support, but emotional support as well. Many individuals partnered with service dogs find that they have more confidence in themselves and their abilities than they did prior to receiving their service dog. All of this, makes it very difficult to retire them.
When making the determination whether or not to retire a service dog, it is important to act upon what is in the best interest of the team as a whole. I had to ask difficult questions of Met and myself after his epilepsy diagnosis in '98 as well as of Thane and myself since his diagnosis of Chronic Lyme and its subsequent fall out.
Met and I were able to keep our partnership going due to good control of his condition that never put my safety at risk. He never had a seizure in public- only at home.
With Thane it was a different story. I had to limit his work in public due to health complications twice during our journey back. Difficult as that was, I know that there could come a day when retirement could be the right decision for him.
Others encountering similar scenarios will find the need to ask these same difficult questions of themselves and their dogs when making this decision. When faced with such a decision, it can be a real benefit to have a supportive veterinarian who cares as much about the disabled partner's well being as they do about their patient.
I found one of the biggest hurdles I had to encounter was the financial burden. Chimette's early medical bills were tough, but thankfully I had some help for a couple of years. I extend my
sincere gratitude to IAADP/Heska grant program for this wonderful assistance on our behalf. Though this program no longer exists, it enabled me to get Met's medical needs under control. Without their assistance Met would have had to have been retired and re-homed.
What is in the Best Interest of the Canine?
What is the medical problem?
Is the medical problem treatable / controllable?
If so, Is it affordable by the disabled partner?
If not, has the disabled partner looked into Veterinary Teaching Hospitals
Would the medical problem be directly affected by the type of work the dog performs?
What is in the best interest of the disabled partner?
What is the extent of the disability? mild, moderate, severe
Does the individual require the canines assistance in order to live independently?
Would the individual be able to remain somewhat independent while awaiting a successor dog or while training a new puppy?
If not, would the individual be able to remain somewhat independent while awaiting a successor dog or while training a new puppy if the canine partner was still able to help them in their home environment, but not in society as a whole?
© 1997 - 2013
by Karyn LaGrange